§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the achievements of his Department and his policies in helping small businesses over the last 12 months relative to the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
§ Mr. Forman
The Government continue to place a high priority on helping small businesses through improvements in the business climate, deregulation, and specific programmes of support and assistance. My Department encourages small firms to tender for contracts; each contract also includes a requirement to pay subcontractors promptly. In the first three months of 1992–93 the Department placed contracts with small firms amounting to 39 per cent. of total departmental expenditure on goods and services, a slightly higher percentage than for a comparable period in 1991–92.